Human rights can protect Syrian Christians, says Lutheran president

By Peter Kenny
16 Jun 2011

If Syria can develop a modern society that respects human rights, press freedom and that of minorities, the Christian minority there will not have to worry about its future, the President of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan has said.

Younan was speaking to journalists at the closing press conference of the LWF’s Council, its main governing body, from 9 to 14 June 2011 in Geneva.

The LWF president was asked about the “Arab awakening” in view of the fact that in places such as Syria, people’s calls for freedoms could result in more chaos and prolonged conflict and this could have consequences for Middle East Christians.

“First of all, I am not only concerned for Christians, I am concerned for every human being whether they be Syrian, Lebanese, Chilean, Korean, Palestinian or Israeli,” said Younan.

“We care that Syria will have a modern civil society that respects freedom of speech, human rights and respects the freedom of the press and the freedom of minorities. Once it becomes a modern civil society that makes economic and political reforms, then we do not have to worry about the Christians because every human being will be equal before the law.”

In his earlier plenary address to the LWF Council, the main governing body of the communion, Younan, the first Arab to lead the organisation, called for a continuing prophetic dialogue with other churches and faiths to address the suffering of humanity.

Younan told Council members, “All too often, religion has been part of the problem, dividing rather than uniting humanity. Our dialogue must work to bring us together to deal with the problems. Religion must be the driving force toward the solution, not the problem.”

The LWF president told the journalists, “As a communion we know you cannot live alone in the world.”

“We took a decision today on the Interfaith Harmony Week, which is a UN assembly resolution, where we are encouraging all of our churches to use the first week of February to dialogue with people of other faith in order to emphasise that religion is not the source of problems, but that is a driving source of solutions.”

To mark the first World Interfaith Harmony Week, the committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations hosted an interfaith breakfast on 3 February 2011 in cooperation with the UN Department of Public Information.

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© Peter Kenny is the former editor-in-chief of ENInews. He covered the LWF Council for Lutheran World Information, but has written this piece for Ekklesia.

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